Showing posts with label Abused Children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abused Children. Show all posts

December 26, 2018

A Second Child Dies at The Hands of Ice- Politics Dangerous for Brown skin Children🙈


                                   Image result for immigration is a child killer

 A Concentration camp for children. 1942 No this is 1918
POLITICS can be a killer!
US says 2nd Guatemalan child dies in im­mi­gration custody
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS HOUSTON
 

HOUSTON (AP) — An 8-year-old boy from Guatemala died in government custody in New Mexico early Tuesday, U.S. immigration authorities said, marking the second death of an immigrant child in detention this month.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release that the boy died shortly after midnight.

The death came during an ongoing dispute over border security and with a partial government shutdown underway over President Donald Trump's request for border wall funding. The White House referred questions to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, CBP's parent agency. CBP officers and the Border Patrol remain on the job despite the shutdown.

The agency said the boy showed "signs of potential illness" on Monday and was taken with his father to a hospital in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he was diagnosed with a cold and a fever. The boy was prescribed amoxicillin and Ibuprofen and released Monday afternoon after being held 90 minutes for observation, the agency said.

The boy was returned to the hospital Monday evening with nausea and vomiting and died there just hours later, CBP said.

According to Guatemala's foreign ministry, the father and son entered the U.S. at El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 18, then were taken to the Border Patrol's Alamogordo station Sunday. Alamogordo is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from El Paso.

CBP typically detains immigrants for no more than a few days when they cross the border before either releasing them or turning them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for longer-term detention. Agency guidelines say immigrants generally shouldn't be detained for more than 72 hours in CBP holding facilities, which are usually smaller and have fewer services than ICE's detention centers.

Parents and children together are almost always released quickly due to limited space in ICE's family detention facilities.

A CBP spokesman on Tuesday did not respond to questions about the ministry's statement. CBP has not yet confirmed when or where the father and son entered the United States or how long they were detained, saying only in its statement that the boy had been "previously apprehended" by its agents.

The agency said the cause of the boy's death has not been determined and that it has notified the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general and the Guatemalan government.

The hospital — the Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center — declined to comment, citing privacy regulations.

CBP promised "an independent and thorough review of the circumstances."

The Guatemalan foreign ministry called for an investigation "in accordance with due process."

Ruben Garcia, director of El Paso's Annunciation House, said Tuesday that he had no reason to believe his shelter had served the family, but was waiting for further details about what happened.

A 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died earlier this month after being apprehended by border agents in New Mexico. The body of the girl, Jakelin Caal, was returned to her family's remote village Monday for burial Tuesday.

Large numbers of Guatemalan families have been arriving in recent weeks in New Mexico, often in remote and dangerous parts of the desert. Jakelin and her father were with 161 other people when they were apprehended in Antelope Wells, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) southwest of Alamogordo.

CBP announced new notification procedures in response to Jakelin's death, which was not revealed until several days later.

Democratic members of Congress and immigration advocates sharply criticized CBP's handling of the death and questioned whether border agents could have prevented it by spotting symptoms of distress or calling for an evacuation by air ambulance sooner. CBP has said that it took several hours to transport Jakelin and her father from a remote Border Patrol facility to a larger station and then a hospital in El Paso.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican whose district along the U.S.-Mexico border includes Alamogordo, did not respond to messages Tuesday.

Xochitl Torres Small, a Democrat who will represent the district starting in January, called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the children's deaths and more medical resources along the border.

"This is inexcusable," she said in a statement Tuesday. "Instead of immediately acting to keep children and all of us safe along our border, this administration forced a government shutdown over a wall."

___

Contributing to this report were Associated Press journalists Mary Hudetz in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Sonia Perez D. in Guatemala City; and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.

December 18, 2018

This Soldier Climbed to Become A General but His Daughter Told The Story of A Munster, Sex Deviant, with Her


Jennifer Elmore, photographed in her home in Chapel Hill, N.C. in May. (Jeremy M. Lange/For The Washington Post)

 For retired Maj. Gen. James J. Grazioplene, getting arrested and photographed in an orange jumpsuit in Northern Virginia this month was the latest humiliation following a lengthy military investigation in which the Army charged him with rape, only to have the case dismissed on a technicality. 
For his daughter and military prosecutors, it was something else: a second chance at seeing whether a court will convict Grazioplene of rape.
Jennifer M. Elmore, 47, said in an interview that she first reported to the Army in 2015 that her estranged father had sexually abused her when she was a child. The service investigated for two years before bringing a case against Grazioplene in April 2017.
“Sometimes, it’s just easier to shut your mouth,” said Elmore, a senior vice president with Abbot Downing, a division of Wells Fargo focused on wealthy clients. “But if I stay silent and the next person opts for that, and the next person opts for that, and the next person opts for that, where are we?”  
As a matter of policy, The Washington Post does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault, but Elmore said she wants to tell her story and discussed it at length with The Post over the past seven months. Five other people as well as letters from the 1980s and 1990s corroborated parts of Elmore’s account. Those people included Grazioplene’s sister, who said the general admitted years ago that he assaulted his daughter.
Grazioplene, 69, is among the few generals in modern history that the Army has attempted to court-martial. He retired in 2005 after a career that included stints as a commander within the 82nd Airborne Division and senior staff positions at the Pentagon. After retiring, he became a vice president at the contractor DynCorp International but is no longer with the company.
He maintains his innocence, but he and one of his lawyers, Thomas Pavlinic, declined to discuss the case. Multiple attempts to reach other family members, including his wife, son and other siblings, were unsuccessful.
“I will not comment,” Grazioplene said in a Sept. 6 phone call. “The charges are false and incorrect. Nope.”

A mug shot of James J. Grazioplene released by Prince William County Police. (Photo by Prince William County Police)
The Army last year convened a hearing at Fort Meade, Md., in which Elmore testified. The service determined that there was enough evidence to hold a trial, but the case was dismissed because of a decision in another case — United States v. Mangahas — by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. It found that a five-year statute of limitations applied in the Mangahas case, which centered on an allegation of rape from 1997. A military judge, in response, dismissed the case against Grazioplene, saying the clock had also run out on prosecuting the general.
On Dec. 3, however, a grand jury in Prince William County indicted Grazioplene on multiple counts of rape and incest, following a four-month investigation, and he was arrested Dec. 7 in Gainesville, Va. 
There is no statute of limitations in Virginia on rape charges.
With a new case pending, Elmore and her attorney, Ryan Guilds, declined to comment further beyond what they said in interviews before the new charges were filed. Officials in Prince William and with the Army also declined to comment on the case and on whether they are cooperating.
Elmore said that her memories of abuse start when she was 3 years old. Her first recollection of it is her father molesting her while she was sitting on a washing machine in her maternal grandmother’s home in LeRoy, N.Y., she said.
“It was just him and myself, and I can picture it. The laundry. The stairs. The stone,” she said. “I couldn’t understand what was happening, but I knew I was terrified.” 
Over the next 15 years, the family moved around as Grazioplene was stationed in New York, Kansas, North Carolina, Germany and Virginia. Elmore said the abuse escalated to include “night visits” to her bedroom.
The Army charged Grazioplene with rape in the period from 1983 to 1989. Prince William authorities are focused on the years 1988 and 1989, when the family lived off-base in Woodbridge, Va., and Elmore was a high school junior.
The Grazioplenes moved back to Fort Bragg, N.C., before her senior year, and the abuse continued there, she said. She moved away in the summer of 1989 to attend Campbell University, a private Christian school less than 30 miles away. Elmore said she was in college before she first told others about what had happened to her. 
Jennifer Elmore at home in Chapel Hill, N.C., on May 24, 2018. (Jeremy M. Lange/For The Washington Post) 
One early confidant was Christopher Herring, a high school friend who had a “very short but kind of intense” period of dating with Elmore in fall 1989, he said. Herring, now an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, said that she was sweet, but sometimes sullen. He learned from her at some point that she had been abused at home, he said. 
“I didn’t poke too much more into it because, quite honestly, I was probably afraid of what I might learn,” Herring said. 
Elmore also confided in Grazioplene’s younger sister, Elizabeth Powley, who confronted her brother, she said.
“He said it was the worst thing he could have ever done to anybody, and that it was not happening still,” Powley said. “To this day, I will die not knowing why my brother did this.” 
After college, Elmore took a financial job in Charlotte and grew increasingly estranged from her parents.  She married and had a son, but was divorced by age 30.
Two friends contacted by The Post — Nikki Cross of Durham, N.C., and Julie Adams of Mebane, N.C. — said Elmore described being abused by her father while they were co-workers.
Cross said she worked with Elmore in a Durham office of Wachovia for a few years beginning around 2001, and they often talked about their Christian faith. One day, Cross said, Elmore said she’d been sexually abused as a child and was considering going to a support group for victims at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Raleigh. She elaborated in later conversations. 
“I was so floored,” Cross said. “It’s really hard to even go back and think about this, because it’s just so deep and dark.”
Adams said she grew close to Elmore as they opened the Abbot Downing office in Raleigh in 2011.
“She indicated that she had been sexually abused by her father, and I think that’s as graphic as the details got at that juncture,” Adams said.
Elmore remarried in 2006 and said she began considering reporting her father to authorities in January 2015. The tipping point, she said, was a phone call in which her parents again expressed frustration that she would not forgive them, as Grazioplene said that “‘the only thing worse that I could have done to you is murder you,’ ” she said.
Elmore’s second husband, Michael Willauer, said they were in a car during the call, and he heard the conversation. 
Elmore said she called Fort Bragg, and within hours investigators asked her to come in for an interview.
The following day, she traveled to the base accompanied by Adams and years of evidence she said she had collected, including some letters that her mother had written to Powley, the aunt. 
“Jim has . . . made an attempt at sexually molesting Jennifer,” one 1986 letter from Ann Marie Grazioplene to Powley reads. “She was sleeping, thank God, and I caught him before he got started.” Powley confirmed receiving it.
In a 1990 letter written from college, Elmore wrote to Powley and apologized for how she had “so bluntly revealed everything to you.” Elmore added that she felt she had “no right to feel that I could make such crude accusations and have you condemn Dad, as we both agreed I subconsciously wanted.” Elmore’s attorney showed the letters to The Post.
Speaking last spring, Elmore said she is grateful to the Army for pursuing her case.
Her husband, Willauer, choked up while describing his wife’s fight to be heard.
“It has been a progression, and it’s been an attempt over and over again to honor the truth in countless ways,” he said. “And being left with no other choice but this one.”
Through tears, Elmore agreed.
“I want to be heard,” she said. “I want to matter enough that the truth matters.” 

December 3, 2018

A Priest Faces Sex Child Abuse In His Own Church When His Assistant is Arrested


     This story originally posted on The Washington Post today By Terrence McCoy                                                                        


 Brian Christensen is on his way to jail again. Clerical collar around his thin neck, rosary dangling from the rearview mirror, the priest sets out on the same trip he has taken almost every day that week.

First was Monday afternoon, when he followed the detectives down this road, then up to the third floor of the police department, where he waited outside the interrogation room. On Wednesday, he went to the preliminary hearing, where the felony charges were announced: two counts of sexual contact with a 13-year-old. On Thursday, and on Friday, he returned to arrange a visitation with the Rev. John Praveen, 38, whom he last saw being cuffed and led into a police car, and who is now being held on a $100,000 cash bond and facing 30 years in prison. 
Now, Monday again, Christensen pulls out of the parking lot at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where as lead pastor he oversaw Praveen’s clerical duties. He makes the five-minute drive to the Pennington County jail, where he plans to speak with the incarcerated priest for the first time since his arrest. 
“Aren’t you tired of all this?” his mother asked him on the phone that morning, and he could only sigh and say, yes, “I am tired of this.” 
This: a string of child sex abuse scandals that — spanning decades, continents and thousands of victims — has fundamentally altered how the world views the Catholic Church and priests like him, in particular. With every crisis, Christensen had allowed himself to hope that now, perhaps, it would be over, only to see another year like this one, when every day seems to bring news of sex crimes and cover-ups in the church. A grand jury report in Pennsylvania accused more than 300 priests of abusing about 1,000 children, spurring federal authorities to investigate. Two U.S. cardinals have been disgraced. And approval ratings for Pope Francis, who once was the world’s most popular leader, have plummeted among Americans.

Priests go visit people in prison. They don’t visit priests in prison. 

The Rev. Brian Christensen

But far beneath those headlines are churches like Christensen’s, where the same themes that have come to define the scandal at large — betrayal, hypocrisy, abuse of power, defensiveness — are playing out in a microcosm.

Ever since police arrested Praveen, who has pleaded not guilty, Christensen’s thoughts have been dominated by the same conflicts, the same questions. He believes it’s his responsibility as a Catholic leader to find a way to forgive sins, but could he this time? Already, he’d faced his flock once at weekend Mass, where he’d struggled to explain the unexplainable, but how does he steward the faith of thousands in a church beset by crisis? And how does he protect his own?

Christensen, 53, parks his Ford SUV near the jail. He kills the engine. He thinks about the day he became a priest, about two decades ago, and how he imagined his life would be. This is not a day he envisioned. “Priests go visit people in prison,” he says aloud. “They don’t visit priestsin prison.”

He climbs out, a tall, graceful man with hair as trim as it was during his military days. He walks past the mirrored glass in the jail lobby, then to a chair in front of a monitor and a phone. The monitor screen says that his appointment is beginning and that the call is being recorded. The lights on either side of the monitor come on. He picks up the phone.

“Come on, Father John,” he says and waits for the priest to arrive.Two days before this jail visit, back at the cathedral, Christensen had stepped out of the confessional. Feeling harried, he’d looked at his watch. It was 4:18 p.m. on a Saturday. The confessions that afternoon had gone way over schedule, and now little more than an hour remained until the weekend’s first Mass, barely enough time to plan how he would address what had become the most wrenching and complicated episode of his life as a priest.

To Christensen, the stakes were clear. No other major religion in the United States had lost more adherents than Catholicism over the past two decades. The combination of rapid social change, rigid church doctrine and a steady accumulation of clergy sex abuse scandals had plunged the church into turmoil. Millions of Americans raised Catholic — 41 percent of them, according to the Pew Research Center — no longer identified themselves that way.

The losses were steepest in the Northeast and the Midwest, once the center of the Catholic life in America, and among whites. Those descriptions characterized almost all of the 1,400 families in Christensen’s congregation, some of whom he wasn’t sure would, despite everything, still come to Mass and hear his homily.

He’d stepped into his office, trying to expel the freneticism of that week — the wedding receptions, church retreats and trips back and forth to jail — and brought out two notepads, a pen and a book of exegesis. He headed to the place where he did all of his best thinking. Inside, the chapel smelled of incense. It was quiet except for the sound of thin Bible pages being turned in prayer.

He knelt, hunched his shoulders over a pew and lowered his head into his hands.

He’d always wanted to say, “Not on my watch,” and that was how it had been at his parish. Even if the kids complained or the courses seemed repetitive, he’d demanded biannual abuse training for children so they could recognize what it meant to be touched inappropriately. In every church bathroom hung laminated signs encouraging victims of clergy abuse to “speak out.” But now, a scandal he’d once associated with faraway Boston or Milwaukee had arrived here, too. And it hadn’t just allegedly happened on his watch but inside the cathedral itself, down in the basement, on a late September day when hundreds of people, including him, were at the church. And none of them had any idea.
TOP LEFT: Christensen, pictured greeting young churchgoers, demanded biannual abuse training for children at his church so they could recognize what it would mean to be touched inappropriately. TOP RIGHT: Parishioners greet one another by shaking hands in a sign of peace. ABOVE: A priest allegedly assaulted a 13-year-old girl in the basement of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on a late September day when hundreds of people were at the church. (Photos by Ryan Hermens for The Washington Post)

He’d made the sign of the cross, picked up a notepad and started writing.The first time he heard about child sex abuse in the church was when he was at seminary in Winona, Minn. It was 1995, and he met a reporter who was asking seminarians what it was like to enter the church at a time when pedophilia allegations were roiling parishes in Ireland and Austria. The question startled him. What abuse? In his whole life — from ringing bells as a Long Island altar boy, to escaping to chapel during morning marches at the U.S. Air Force Academy, to his growing church involvement while flying B-1 bombers — he’d never seen anything remotely approaching abuse.

Christensen sat back in the chapel pew, wrote the words, “What do we do?” and underlined them twice.

His faith in the clergy, then so strong, began to waiver only after he put on the collar. He witnessed one elderly priest get too “chummy” with boys — crude conversations, too much time together at the rectory — and ultimately reported him to church leaders. He watched a South Dakota priest be removed because of abuse allegations. And then in 2005, he got his first solo pastoral assignment. It was a small church in Fort Pierre, S.D., where a priest had abused children in the 1980s and early 1990s. On Sundays, Christensen noticed an absence of 30-something men in the pews. And soon people were telling him that the priest had abused them, too, and that, no, they didn’t want it reported, they just wanted him to know that it was true, that it had happened.

He closed his notebooks, shut his eyes and thought about the conversations he’d been having since Praveen’s arrest.

“I was raised Catholic,” one recently returned parishioner, Leslie Bostick, told him over lunch about her mind-set when she abandoned the church following an earlier abuse scandal. “This [sex abuse] issue came up, and it bothered me, and I stopped. . . . I would never go to confession. I felt like, ‘Why should I confess my sins to someone who has committed a crime?’ ” 

Joe Carlin, 78, told him over coffee on another day: “I would not admit to people that I’m a Catholic right now if they’re not Catholic.”

“Do you feel uncomfortable wearing that?” another woman, who declined to give her name, citing the sensitivity of her work with sex abuse survivors, had asked of his clerical clothing while at a church retreat.

“I don’t, but, you know, um, no, I don’t,” he’d replied, fumbling, because it was a question he’d asked of himself before, and sometimes he didn’t know the answer. Some emotions were easier. He felt angry — angry that pedophile priests had been shuffled from parish to parish. He felt frustrated. Why all of the church secrecy? Why the sealed court cases, the priests quietly retired, the accusers silenced with confidentiality agreements? And sometimes, most painful of all, he felt betrayed. He had sacrificed his life to become a priest, a decision that hadn’t been easy. It was only in August 1993 that, after years of thinking about it, he saw a processional for Pope John Paul II while flying over Denver. In that moment, he heard God’s voice — the clearest it had ever been — telling him he belonged down there, with them. He soon gave up his military career, and the possibility of marriage and a family, and now to have this act of service become so twisted in people’s minds? To have someone ask if he was uncomfortable wearing his clerical clothing, when he should feel only pride? It hurt to think about it.

He’d stood and, smoothing out the folds of that clothing, stepped out of the chapel, having decided what he would say during his homily. He looked out into the main church hall.

Ten minutes until the service. Hundreds of people already in the pews. All eyes on him.Days later now, at the jail again, John Praveen’s face appears on the computer monitor against a backdrop of white walls, closed doors and a stairway leading out of the camera frame. It is a face that looks swollen, unshaven, on the verge of crying. Christensen stares at it, blinking in disbelief, before he speaks.

Every day since his arrest, he has thought about talking with Praveen and all of the questions he wanted to ask him. Everything that had happened that week still didn’t make any sense to Christensen, who couldn’t, no matter how hard he tried, square the man he had thought Praveen was with the man the police say he is.
The Rev. John Praveen is charged with two counts of sexual contact
with a 13-year-old. (Diocese of Rapid City)
                                                 

 He first heard of Praveen shortly before he moved to South Dakota last November from Hyderabad, India, to help fill the Rapid City Diocese’s shortage of priests. Praveen arrived at the cathedral in June, carrying himself with a childlike earnestness that almost everyone found disarming. He wanted to put every parishioner’s birthday in the church bulletin. He asked if he could redecorate the church’s understated altar with bright purples and blues. He followed church staff members around, repeatedly asking if they needed help with anything. “Always had a smile on his face,” said Margaret Jackson, a parishioner who took him out to an Indian restaurant days before his arrest.

On a Sunday afternoon three months after Praveen arrived, a local family reported to police allegations against him — details of which are under court seal — and the next day, investigators were at the cathedral. They said they wanted to talk to Praveen, not at the cathedral, but back at the station. Christensen followed them, then waited outside the interrogation room for more than an hour, counting tiles, praying, until the door opened. Praveen came out. His eyes were red. His hair, normally combed, was a ruffled mess. Disbelief was on his face. A detective took Christensen aside and told him. Praveen had been accused of sexually abusing a child. Christensen felt numb, then drove back to the cathedral in near silence with Praveen, who immediately went to his room, where he sat awake with the lights on all night.

The next day, after the police had again come to the cathedral, after Christensen had asked Praveen to change so he wouldn’t be seen cuffed in his clerical clothes, after police had photographed a classroom in the cathedral’s basement, Christensen got online. He wanted to inform the cathedral’s few Facebook followers of all the information he had, but many already had found out from the police on social media everything they needed to know.

“Is it just me, or is the vast majority of these cases that we continue to hear about, involve Catholic priests?!” one person wrote in response to the police department’s Facebook post.

“NEVER go to a Catholic Church,” another person said.

That type of reaction, the absolutism of it, was perhaps most upsetting of all to Christensen. He knew there were abusive priests, but the messy reality was that most weren’t. In fact, he’d come to see clergy members as no more likely to be sexual predators than people in other professions with access to children. Some studies, including a report in 2004 by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, put the number of sexual abusers among priests at about 4 percent, roughly consistent with clergymen of other faiths. Other organizations, including BishopAccountability.org, placed it at just under 6 percent. Anne Barrett Doyle, the organization’s co-director, says it may be shown to be higher still — especially if authorities compel transparency.

And what to do about the priests who abuse? How to balance the secular need for punishment with the Catholic command to forgive? Could anger and compassion coexist?

Now staring at Praveen, who is wiping his eyes and sniffling, speaking so mutedly that he’s barely intelligible, Christensen can’t help but feel sympathy, perhaps not as much as he has for the victim and her family, but sympathy nonetheless.

He leans forward, presses the phone tightly to his ear.

“Father John, how are you?” he says softly.He decides not to ask the questions most on his mind. “Did you know that you can get e-mails?”

He decides not to ask about either of the dates listed on Praveen’s charging document, Sept. 3 and Sept. 28, both of which were days the two priests had spent together. The first had been Labor Day, when they’d gone to a barbecue at the home of a local Catholic. Christensen didn’t see the girl there, but he did see Praveen play cornhole for hours and hours. And the second date had been the day of a ceremony at the cathedral, attended by hundreds, to honor an Italian saint, and Christensen had urged Praveen, during lunch, to try some American food for once.

“What do you need?”

He will not ask how, if the allegations are true, Praveen could have possibly toggled, on both of those days, in two separate locations, between his festivities with congregants and his abuse of the same child, and without anyone noticing. (The girl’s parents have not returned multiple requests for comment.)

“You have the Bible there? You have the rosary?”

And he will not ask what he most wanted to, a question that he repeated with parishioners during a moment of exasperation and frustration days earlier: How could Praveen have done this to them, to the Church?

Instead, he will say this:

“Many, many people are praying for you.”

“We’re trying to help. We’re trying to help.”

“Let’s say a prayer.”

Christensen lowers his head and closes his eyes. Praveen does the same.“We ask for a particular blessing upon Father John,” Christensen says. “God bless you, with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Christensen hangs up the phone, the light turns off, and Praveen’s face disappears.




October 20, 2018

Feds Investigating on Sex Probe Against Child Sex Abuse Cases on Pennsylvania Church

 

 St Mary's Church in PA. Where Police is investigating child sex abuse


The Department of Justice has launched an investigation of child sex abuse within Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic Church, sending subpoenas to dioceses across the state seeking private files and records to explore the possibility that priests and bishops violated federal law in cases that go back decades, NPR has learned.
In what is thought to be the first-ever such inquiry into the church's clergy sex-abuse scandal, authorities have issued subpoenas to look into possible violations of the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, also known as RICO, according to a person close to the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  
The source did not elaborate on what other potential federal crimes could be part of the inquiry, which could take years and is now only in its early stages. 
RICO has historically been used to dismantle organized-crime syndicates. 
Officials at six of Pennsylvania's eight dioceses — Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, Scranton and Harrisburg — have confirmed to NPR that they have recently received and are currently complying with federal subpoenas for information. The two remaining dioceses did not return requests for comment.  
Supporters of those who have been victimized by church leaders applauded federal prosecutors for initiating a criminal investigation into one of the state's most powerful institutions.  
"There is a consensus rising, which is this just has to stop. And it won't stop if prosecutors just sit on their hands," said Marci Hamilton, University of Pennsylvania professor who also runs Child USA, a group that advocates for victims of child sex abuse. "The federal government has been silent on these issues to date, and it's high time they got to work."
The federal investigation follows a sweeping grand jury report released in August by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office that found that more than 1,000 minors were abused by some 300 priests across Pennsylvania over a 70-year period.
A dozen other states have also opened investigations into clergy sex abuse.
Fallout from the Pennsylvania report has included Catholic schools that honored now-disgraced clergy being renamed and the archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl, resigning after being accused of covering up sexual abuse during his time as bishop of Pittsburgh.
Numerous other church officials, the report found, participated in a systemic cover-up of the abuse that included shuffling priests around to other parishes and, in some cases, obstructing police investigations. However, because some of the allegations are decades old, many of the accused are now deceased. 
Because of Pennsylvania's statute of limitations, just two of the priests named in the report were charged as a result of the state-led investigation.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, says that the federal statute of limitations could allow more time to prosecute individuals who are now out of reach under state laws.
"This could bring the full force of the federal government to bear. It's potentially enormous," he said.
The subpoenas were first reported by The Associated Press, which said investigators sought to examine organizational charts, insurance coverage, clergy assignments and confidential documents stored in what has become known as the church's "Secret Archives." 
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain authorized the subpoenas. A spokeswoman for McSwain declined to comment.
A Justice Department representative in Washington, D.C., would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation.
Legal experts said accruing enough evidence to build a RICO case against the Roman Catholic Church — basically treating the influential institution as a crime syndicate — will be a burdensome task. 
Child USA's Hamilton, for one, said she thinks using federal RICO as a weapon against the church would be a stretch, since the 1970 law is not designed to deal with problems such as sex abuse and other personal injury cases. Instead, she said, most RICO cases involve financial crimes. "I hope that they can find a way to make it fit, but it will be challenging," she said.
However, Hamilton said a federal statute called the Mann Act, which prohibits moving people across state lines for the purpose of illegal sex acts, could be a more promising legal avenue. 
"As we know, there have been plenty of priests who took children across state lines," she said.
Tobias, the law professor who specializes in federal courts, said whatever comes of the investigation, the issuing of the subpoenas has likely sent a jolt across the country. If the inquiry of the Pennsylvania church results in criminal charges, it could be used as a road map for federal prosecutors hoping to pursue abusers in other states. 
"Pennsylvania might be the first state where the federal government does this," Tobias said. "But then they build on the lessons they've learned there, as DOJ often does when they have a national issue, and go to the other states and use that template again."


October 1, 2018

Jehovah Witnesses Must pay $35 Million to a Woman Whose Child a Member Raped




                                            Image result for watch tower



HELENA, Mont. — The Jehovah's Witnesses must pay $35 million to a woman who says the church's national organization ordered Montana clergy members not to report her sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a congregation member, a jury ruled in a verdict.
A judge must review the penalty, and the Jehovah's Witnesses' national organization — Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York — plans to appeal.
Still, the 21-year-old woman's attorneys said Wednesday's verdict sends a message to the church to report child abuse to outside authorities.
"Hopefully that message is loud enough that this will cause the organization to change its priorities in a way that they will begin prioritizing the safety of children so that other children aren't abused in the future," said attorney Neil Smith Thursday. The Office of Public Information at the World Headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses responded to the verdict with an unsigned statement.
"Jehovah's Witnesses abhor child abuse and strive to protect children from such acts. Watchtower is pursuing an appellate review," it said.
The Montana case is one of the dozens that have been filed nationwide over the past decade alleging Jehovah's Witnesses mismanaged or covered up the sexual abuse of children.
The case that prompted Wednesday's ruling involved two women, now 32 and 21, who allege a family member sexually abused them and a third family member in Thompson Falls in the 1990s and 2000s.
The women say they reported the abuse to church elders, who handled the matter internally after consulting with the national organization.
The elders expelled the abuser from the congregation in 2004 then reinstated him the next year, the lawsuit states, and the abuse of the girl who is now 21 continued.
The lawsuit claimed the local and national Jehovah's Witnesses organizations were negligent and violated a Montana law that requires them to report abuse to outside authorities. "Their national headquarters, called Watchtower, they control when and if anyone within their organization reports child abuse," Smith said. "Watchtower instructed everyone involved that they were not to report the matter to authorities."
Attorneys for the Jehovah's Witnesses said in court filings that Montana law exempts elders from reporting "internal ecclesiastical proceedings on a congregation member's serious sin."
The church also contended that the national organization isn't liable for the actions by Thompson Falls elders and that too much time has passed for the women to sue.
The jury awarded the 21-year-old woman $4 million for her injuries, plus $30 million in punitive damages against Watchtower and $1 million in punitive damages against the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, another Jehovah's Witness corporation that communicates with congregations across the U.S.
The monetary award must be reviewed by the trial judge and could be reduced. A Montana law caps punitive damage awards at 3 percent of a company's net worth or $10 million, whichever is less. A legal challenge to that law is pending before the Montana Supreme Court.
The jury dismissed claims that the church should have reported the second woman's abuse by the same congregation member. Jurors concluded church elders did not receive notice of the 32-year-old woman's abuse in 1998 as she said they did and therefore did not have a duty to tell authorities.
The third family member who claimed abuse was not a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
(The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are a victim of a sex crime).

September 21, 2018

Serving as Escape Goats Gay Priests for Abused Children Male/Female Widens Their Divide


 

 This picture of the Vatican looks clear but is only because there is plenty of light.
The same can not be said about inside the place



The uproar over clergy sex abuse in the Catholic church is no longer just about sex abuse. It now touches on Catholic teaching about sexuality in general and even on Pope Francis himself, his agenda, and the future of his papacy.
When a Pennsylvania grand jury last month reported that more than 300 priests had molested more than a thousand children across six dioceses under investigation, it became clear that the cases were not isolated incidents. The problem of abusive priests and the bishops who cover up for them is systemic across the whole church.
Pope Francis says the crisis is rooted in a culture of clericalism, with priests and bishops so elevated in the church that their word and authority dominate over the experience of the people they serve.
Some of the pope's adversaries in the church, such as Cardinal Raymond Burke, have another explanation: Gay priests are to blame, they say. Most abuse incidents, Burke told an interviewer last month, consist of "homosexual acts committed with adolescent young men." 
"It seems clear in light of these recent terrible scandals," Burke said, "that indeed there is a homosexual culture, not only among the clergy but even within the hierarchy, which needs to be purified at the root."
That view has found wide resonance in conservative Catholic circles.
Conflating homosexuality and sexual abuse
Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, writing to Catholics in his diocese last month, noted that the recent incidents of clergy abuse involved "deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics."
"It is time to admit," Morlino wrote, "that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord."
When interviewed later about his letter on the Catholic television network EWTN, Morlino was asked what he would say to those Catholics who read his comments as blaming homosexuality for the problems in the church.
"I would say that homosexuality is at the root of this," Morlino answered.

Researchers who have studied patterns of clergy sex abusesay they have found no evidence of a link with sexual orientation. But the argument continues, with some Catholic leaders and prominent theologians even saying the abuse crisis justifies a purge of gay men from the priesthood.
Such reactions highlight the deep divisions in the Catholic church over issues of sexuality. Pope Francis, having advocated a more tolerant church culture in general and towards LGBT people in particular, has encountered fierce resistance from Catholics who cling to more orthodox positions. The Catholic church officially holdsthat to have a "deep-seated" homosexual orientation is to be "objectively disordered."
The new conservative focus on homosexuality in the clergy as a root cause of the abuse crisis has brought the longstanding debate over Catholic teaching on sexuality into sharper focus.
Is Catholic teaching homophobic?
"Our church's very unhealthy attitudes about sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular really need to be addressed," says Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a Catholic LGBT advocacy group. Duddy-Burke sees the abuse crisis in the context of what she considers Catholic church homophobia.
"Whenever the church is under stress, particularly around the issue of sexual abuse and minors and the cover up by the clergy, gay priests have been scapegoated," she says.
Even Catholics who view LGBT people sympathetically, however, acknowledge that the abuse incidents highlighted recently mostly involve male-on-male assaults.
"Clearly, the vast majority of [clergy abuse] cases are men preying on boys and adolescents. We have to be clear about that," says James Martin, S.J., a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large of America, a Jesuit magazine. "But that does not mean that every gay priest is an abuser."
Martin, who writes often about LGBT issues and Catholicism, notes that being gay and committing sexual assault are different.
"The reason we have that stereotype [of gay priests as abusers]," Martin says, "is because there are so few public counterexamples of the healthy celibate gay priest, of whom there are hundreds if not thousands."
"They are in religious orders and dioceses and parishes and schools and hospitals and soup kitchens," Martin says, "and they're doing great work. I know them personally."
Martin thinks as many as 30 or 40 percent of Catholic priests are gay, at least in their sexual orientation. But he says they are terrified to be identified as such in the current environment.
A larger divide 
The crisis also has political ramifications. In an open letter released last month, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, singled out several top Catholic cardinals and bishops as being complicit in the abuse crisis because of their association with what he called a "homosexual current" in Catholic circles. 
Among them were former Washington D.C. Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, credibly accused of molesting a minor. Vigano also targeted McCarrick's successor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, for helping to cover up for abusive priests, as well as Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago. All three have been allied with Pope Francis and supportive of his social justice agenda. Francis himself, Vigano said, should resign for having accommodated McCarrick even while knowing about the allegations against him.
Vigano, however, is among the longstanding critics of Francis in the church.
"I think what's happening, unfortunately, is that the suffering of children and the crimes of sex abuse are being used by people who have always been Pope Francis's critics as an excuse to dump on him basically," Martin says. "I see in a lot of the attacks on Pope Francis more a hatred of him than a hatred of sex abuse."
The attacks may be having an effect. A new CNN poll shows Pope Francis is now viewed favorably by just 48 percent of Americans, down from 73 percent who approved of him at the beginning of his papacy.

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